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Although over half a year has already passed since the announcement of NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800/5800 Ultra, the first graphics cards based on these chips started selling only a few months ago.

The graphics cards based on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra helped the company to regain the title of the performance leader, but still didn’t become very popular. There were several reasons for that: first of all, they were very expensive compared to ATI RADEON 9700 Pro based graphics cards, and secondly, they featured a number of serious drawbacks: high heat dissipation of the graphics core as well as of the graphics memory chips, absolutely unbearable noise, severe requirements for the computer PSU...

The launching of the new ATI VPU aka RADEON 9800 Pro (R350), has even aggravated the situation for NVIDIA in the performance graphics cards sector. The company’s competitor looks much more attractive than NV30 from any viewpoint: performance, quality, price, noise, heat dissipation, etc. And if performance is just a question of time for NVIDIA, that means how fats they manage to optimize their drivers, then all other drawbacks of the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra (see our NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra Review for more details) cannot be eliminated by any driver optimization. These particular drawbacks of the NV30 solution probably pushed NVIDIA to speed up the launching of their next graphics chip generation aka NV35.

So, today NVIDIA announces the next generation of its graphics processors. NV35 chips officially called NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900/5900 Ultra should replace NV30 in the performance graphics cards sector.

In our today’s article we will take a look at four graphics cards based on the latest ATI and NVIDIA chips: RADEON 9700 Pro (R300), RADEON 9800 Pro (R350), NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra and of course, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra. The latter super heavyweight from NVIDIA will certainly get most our attention :)

Closer Look: NV35 Features and Peculiarities

Well, it is evident that you shouldn’t expect any revolutionary innovations to be introduced in NV35,a s NVIDIA had too little time to make any radical changes to the chip architecture. Besides, the mere name of the new chip indicates that the company didn’t aim at any goal like that: the new graphics processor is “just” a faster implementation of NV30 architecture, just like NV25 (GeForce4) is in fact just a faster version of NV20 (GeForce3).

So, what does the new NV35 look like?

At first please take a look at a features table we composed for NV35 and NV30:

NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra
(NV30)

NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra
(NV35)

Manufacturing technology

0.13micron

0.13micron

Number of transistors

125mln

135mln

Chip frequency

500MHz

450MHz

Graphics memory controller

128bit
DDR II SDRAM

256bit
DDR SDRAM

Graphics memory frequency

1000MHz
(500MHz DDR)

850MHz
(425MHz DDR)

Peak memory bus bandwidth

15.258GB/s

25.940GB/s

Max graphics memory size

256MB

256MB

AGP interface

AGP 3.0 4x/8x

AGP 3.0 4x/8x

Pixel pipelines, pixel shaders

Pixel pipelines [*1]

4, 8

4, 8 [*2]

Texturing unites per pipeline [*1]

2, 0

2, 0 [*2]

Max number of textures during multi-texturing

8

8

Texture filtering types

bi-linear
anisotropic
tri-linear
tri-linear + anisotropic

bi-linear
anisotropic
tri-linear
tri-linear + anisotropic

Max anisotropy level

8

8

Pixel shaders version

v.2.0+

v.2.0+ [*3]

Vertex pipelines, vertex shaders,

Vertex pipelines

3

3

Vertex shaders version

v.2.0+

v.2.0+

Full Screen Anti-Aliasing

FSAA methods

Supersampling,
Odered grid multi-sampling
(OGSS, OGMS)

Supersampling,
Odered grid multi-sampling
(OGSS, OGMS)

Number of samples

2 (OGSS, OGMS),
Quincunx,
4 (OGSS, OGMS, OGSS+OGMS – only in Direct3D ),
6 (OGSS+OGMS, only in Direct3D),
8 (OGSS+OGMS)

2 (OGSS, OGMS),
Quincunx,
4 (OGSS, OGMS, OGSS+OGMS – only in Direct3D ),
6 (OGSS+OGMS, only in Direct3D),
8 (OGSS+OGMS)

Technologies aimed at higher memory bandwidth efficiency

Hidden Surfaces Removal (HSR)

Yes

Yes

Frame-buffer compression

Yes

Yes [*4]

Z-buffer compression

Yes

Yes [*4]

 
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